Kurdish MPs threaten Turkish parliament boycott after mayors seized

Supporters of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party during a demonstration. The HDP denies any link to terrorism. (Reuters/File)
Updated 20 November 2019

Kurdish MPs threaten Turkish parliament boycott after mayors seized

ANKARA: The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) is considering withdrawing its MPs from Turkey’s Parliament in protest at the government’s dismissal of four district mayors over the weekend.

The removal of the Kurdish local leaders on terrorism charges brings the total number dismissed since the March 31 local elections to 24, with some also imprisoned.

HDP lawmakers, mayors and local officials are expected to discuss a parliamentary boycott at a meeting on Wednesday in Ankara.

Removal of the Kurdish mayors has drawn widespread international criticism.

The move is seen as a violation of the right to political participation and free elections under the European Convention on Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Alice Kuhnke, a member of European Parliament for the Greens/European Free Alliance, said that the arrest of Kurdish mayors and political opponents is part of a wider attempt to silence political opponents, even those democratically elected.

SPEEDREED

• The removal of the Kurdish local leaders on terrorism charges brings the total number dismissed since the March 31 local elections to 24, with some also imprisoned.

• HDP lawmakers, mayors and local officials are expected to discuss a parliamentary boycott at a meeting on Wednesday in Ankara.

• Removal of the Kurdish mayors has drawn widespread international criticism.resignation.

“It is based on questionable laws and put in place to undermine the judiciary in order for the regime to control and keep an executive overview of court rulings — this has nothing to do with independent judiciary,” she told Arab News.

Kuhnke said the campaign against the Kurdish mayors highlights a systematic breakdown of judicial independence and rule of law.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the HDP over alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terror group by Turkey, the US and EU.

HDP, whose former co-leaders have both been jailed on terrorism charges for three years, denies any link.

Kuhnke said the HDP’s threat to withdraw from Parliament “is a desperate, yet understandable, sign of frustration and anger over actions taken by the regime toward the party and its members and supporters.”

Local governors who were dismissed are from eastern and southeastern provinces, especially from Diyarbakir, Van and Mardin, three largest Kurdish regions.

They were removed during and after Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria against the YPG Kurdish militia.

HDP’s opposition to the Turkish offensive, which it has described as “an invasion,” is also considered a factor in the move.

Emma Sinclair-Webb, director of Human Rights Watch Turkey, said the removal and jailing of HDP mayors accelerated after Turkey’s military incursion into northeast Syria.

“The signs are that this is a government policy to deny any distinction between the HDP and the PKK, and to crush lawful and legitimate political association supported by hundreds of thousands of people in the southeast,” she told Arab News.

“There are signs, too, that the presidency is pushing to strip 12 HDP MPs of their immunity and to target them. Dismissing and jailing politicians on bogus terrorism charges will solve nothing.”

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Lebanese restaurant attracts star support following Beirut blasts

Updated 14 August 2020

Lebanese restaurant attracts star support following Beirut blasts

  • Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe donated $5,000 to the fund, set up by a group of Beirut-based foreign correspondents
  • Operating on a plat-du-jour formula, each day of the week would serve a homemade Lebanese specialty

LONDON: Lebanese restaurant Le Chef found an unlikely high-profile supporter after a GoFundMe page was set up to save the diner from ruin following the Beirut blasts on August 4.

Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe donated $5,000 to the fund, set up by a group of Beirut-based foreign correspondents.

When Richard Hall, one of the organizers and the former-Beirut correspondent of UK daily The Independent, highlighted the generous donation, Crowe tweeted: “On behalf of Anthony Bourdain. I thought that he would have probably done so if he was still around. I wish you and LeChef the best and hope things can be put back together soon.” Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain took his life two years ago.

Tucked away in the middle of the Gemmayze district, Le Chef – commonly seen as one of Beirut’s must-try hole-in-the-wall diners for tourists – was badly damaged in the recent blast.

The tiny diner with its neon-red logo and checkered tables was second home to many of the street’s residents and the country’s foreign correspondents. It featured in Bourdain’s report from Beirut during his travel show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations in 2006.

“And yet I'd already fallen in love with Beirut. We all had — everyone on my crew. As soon as we'd landed, headed into town, there was a reaction I can only describe as pheromonic: The place just smelled good. Like a place we were going to love,” Bourdain’s field notes during his time on CNN's Parts Unknown said.

Operating on a plat-du-jour formula, each day of the week would serve a homemade Lebanese specialty – with Thursday’s mloukhiyye and rice a favorite among many journalists, according to Arab News’ correspondent Leila Hatoum.

“When I worked as a reporter based in Gemmayze between 2002 and 2006, Le Chef was the restaurant that provided home-cooked style meals at such affordable prices and in generous quantities…each dish literally could feed two persons,” Hatoum said.

“It was the meeting point for every reporter in the area, be it foreign or local. I would say Le Chef was the ‘it’ place for affordable but great home-cooked food.”

Other dishes include rice and lamb (kharouf mehshi) on Mondays, spiced Lebanese couscous with chicken (moughrabiyye) on Tuesdays, kibbeh bil sayniyye on Wednesdays, rice and fish (sayyidiye) on Fridays and roast lamb with potatoes on Saturdays.

“Le Chef was different, everything they served was as though my mom cooked it,” Netherlands-based designer Rawad Baaklini told Arab News.

“And it was so cheap! Their dishes were big compared to the price they charged. They used to deliver, so for me ordering from them was like eating at home,” Baaklini said, recalling his time working at a studio based in the area.

“My favorite dish was the kibbeh bel sayniyye … It was magical, I don’t know how they made it, but it was every time great.”